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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  July 22, 2009 9:00pm-10:00pm EDT

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your premiums, and out of pocket costs, will continue to skyrocket. if we don't act, 14,000 americans will continue to lose their health insurance every single day. these are the consequences of inaction. these are the stakes of the debate we're having right now. >> as to the republican position, the opposition position that it's just too expensive to reform health care, here's what the president had to say. he said to all, to everybody out there who has been gined up about this idea the obama administration wants to spend and spend and spend the fact of the matter is we inherited an enormous deficit, enormous long-term debt reductions. we have not reduced it as much as we need to and as i'd like to but health care reform is not going to add to that deficit. it is designed to lower it. that is part of the reason, he
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said, why it is so important to do it and to do it now. of course, the most pointed question of the evening came from the "los angeles times" reporter. >> you promised that health care negotiations would take place on c-span and that hasn't happened. and your administration recently turned down a request from a watch dog group seeking a list of health care executives who had visited the white house to talk about health care reform. also, the t.a.r.p. inspector generals recently said your white house is withholding too much information on the bank bailout. my question for you is are you fulfilling your promise of transparency in the white house? >> well, on the list of health care executives who visited us, most of the time you guys have been in there taking pictures. so it hasn't been a secret. my understanding is we just sent a letter out providing a full list of all the executives but frankly these have mostly been at least photo sprays where you could see who was participating.
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with respect to all of the negotiations not being on c-span, you will recall in this very room that our kickoff event was here on c-span and at a certain point, you know, you start getting into all kinds of different meetings. the senate finance is having a meeting. the house is having a meeting. if they want those to be on c-span, then i would welcome it. i don't think there are a lot of secrets going on in there. and the last question with respect to t.a.r.p., let me take a look at what exactly they say we have not provided. i think that we've provided much greater transparency than existed prior to our administration coming in. it is a big program. i don't know exactly what's been requested. i'll find out. and i will have an answer for you. >> the president today promising to provide more information in
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response to a question about transparency, secrecy, and the forthcomingness of his administration about not only health care but also the financial bailout and the part of it known as t.a.r.p. joining us now is "newsweek" magazine senior washington correspondent and msnbc political analyst howard fineman. howard, thanks very much for sticking around. nice to see you. >> nice to see you, rachel. >> we're going to be joined in a minute by the white house press secretary robert gibbs. we're told he's speaking to the president briefly before he comes outside to join us. if you had to guess would you say they're talking about skip gates right now or do you think they're talking about health care? >> i don't know. they might be talking about tonsils. i think that's the first press conference in which tonsils was referred to. i think that what the president and robert gibbs are talking about is what did we get out of this that was useful? what should we stress? i think the attacks on republicans were something new in a primetime press conference
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in this kind of context. i think the discussion of how this would not cost the american people money in the long run but save money in the long run. most specifically i think he addressed directly the notion that there were things about your health care for all the millions of people who have health care that would be improved. portability, a cap on total payments, the abolition of the idea that insurance companies could not give you coverage if you have a preexisting condition. that was speaking to the plus side of the equation here but i've got to say, rachel, politically, as a political reporter, i don't really see what he got out of this thing tonight. i think he seemed a little tired. i think there was not a lot of news in it. i know that he wants to play his cards close to the vest in terms of negotiating with the hill. but i think for those who wanted him to come out and to declare more specifically and forcefully what he wanted to see in the bill, it was notable more for
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the absence of that than for the inclusion of it. >> howard, the other option i suppose tonight for what -- how he could have hit a home run tonight, what would have been considered a major success even if he didn't go with details which i think would have rewarded the washington audience, would have been to renew the sort of moral authority and moral energy around the issue for the audience watching at home such as it is. did he try for that? and not get there? or did he make some point there? >> no, i couldn't agree with you more. i think it was notable for the lack of the lift of the driving dream, rachel. i mean, this is unarguably at the center of what's -- what needs to be fixed in american society both morally and fiscally. and the president needs to be excited about the challenge of that and needs to tell people about the better future that he's going to help lead us to and it sounds like a cliche' but to be excited about it. i thought he seemed tired. i thought he seemed like he was giving the same old list of
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nontalking points. and i think he missed an opportunity here to really explain to people what was exciting about this. we just got done celebrating the unbelievable accomplishment of 40 years ago of landing a man on the moon, the most amazing technological achievement in all of history arguably. we have the brains and the ability to remake this health care system. it's not as simple as engineering. this is human engineering. this is societal engineering. but it's something we not only need to do but be excited about to sort of create a new american in terms of how we view health care and i think that excitement, that sense of mission, that was so much a part of the obama campaign and the obama inauguration and the first months of dealing with various fiscal crises and financial crises around the world, the sense of drama and urgency that he was trying to create seemed utterly missing tonight for some reason and i think that had something to do with the fact that he's in the middle of complex negotiations with
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congress and doesn't want to show his hand. but i agree with you that he missed the chance. if he wasn't going to talk about the details and show his cards in negotiation to make the moral case and make it in human terms. after all, health care is about people. you didn't hear a lot about individuals. he didn't approach it the way a ronald reagan would have who was one of his communications heroes. let's hear the stories of people. let's hear the stories about how the messed up health care system we have, and there are a lot of messed up things about t. is affecting real individuals. he reads these ten letters every morning. let's hear from the letters if he's not going to do anything else. >> let me ask you about the last issue that was also raised during the press conference, howard. that was by lynn sweet's question asking about professor gates who was arrested at his home under circumstances that seem almost impossible to believe. we've got a quick sound bite of the president's response to that question moving totally away from health care but probably making some news here. here it is. >> the guy forgot his keys.
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jimmied his way to get into the house. there was a report called into the police station that there might be a burglary taking place. so far so good. right? i mean if i was trying to jigger in -- well, i guess this is my house now so it probably wouldn't happen. let's say my old house in chicago. here i'd get shot. but so far so good. the reporting, the police are doing what they should. there's a call. they go investigate what happens. my understanding is at that point professor gates is already in his house. the police officer comes in. i'm sure there is some exchange of words. but my understanding is that professor gates then shows his i.d. to show that this is his house. and at that point he gets
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arrested for disorderly conduct, charges which are later dropped. now, i don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts what role race played in that. >> howard, briefly, your response to that in terms of how you think that's going to be received, how you think the president handled that question? >> well, there's controversy about a few of the facts, about exactly when skip gates showed his i.d. or whatever. but i think the fundamental sympathy of most americans just on the surface of it is with professor gates. it was fascinating to watch the president suddenly inhabit that character if you will, rachel. he became a guy who had lived that experience. by the way, when he was in the illinois legislature then state senator barack obama focused a lot about racial profiling and looked at police procedures. this is something he knows a lot about both as a legislator and as a person. i thought it was fascinating and
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utterly fascinating glimpse into the state of american society today and race relations as they exist that he talked with humor about his own being, you know, living in the white house. i thought it was utterly fascinating both sad and at the same time i thought confidence building, too, about our ability to get through moments like this. >> msnbc political analyst howard fineman. always great to have you on the show. thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you, rachel. >> joining us now from the white house is white house press secretary robert gibbs. thanks very much for taking time for us tonight. nice to see you. >> happy to do it, rachel. how are you? >> i'm great. i want to talk to you about health care. i have a million questions. but we just played the clip of the last question at the press conference and the president's response about professor gates up at harvard and his experience being arrested. when the president made that joke about if he was trying to break into his house now he'd be shot, it was both a very good
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joke, got a big laugh, and it was also a very cutting, direct remark about racial profiling in america and frankly the security the president has right now. >> right. >> should we expect the president to expand on these remarks and on this as an issue? >> well look. i think as you heard howard talk about in just the most previous segment this is an issue the president has worked on with police and communities in illinois to raise awareness about racial profiling. i told him when i left him a few minutes ago, be careful. don't get locked out tonight. obviously the only people not laughing at the president's answer at one point were our friends in the secret service who do a wonderful job protecting him and his family. but obviously this is a serious issue and i think it shows that we've come a long way in this country but we still have a lot of work to do. >> i imagine that the other people not laughing at that tonight would be the cambridge police department who were described by the president as
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having acted stupidly in this case. as we do get more reporting about what happened, as we do hear both sides both from the officer involved, the police department involved, and from professor gates about what happened, is it possible that the president will need to revisit that remark in order to not damage his relationship with first responders around the country? >> well, look. he has tremendous respect for police in this city, ones that keep he and his family and all of our families safe throughout the country. understand his work on racial profiling in illinois was with police officers working with him to identify and root out a problem that everyone is concerned about. obviously, the charges that were brought by the police department have been dropped. we'll certainly continue to watch i think everybody in this country will continue to watch this case. >> on the issue of health care, which was obviously the main -- the main course tonight, the president tonight told chuck todd that he's not blaming
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republicans for what hasn't happened, for what hasn't been accomplished yet but he was dissatisfied with some of what he called the misinformation republicans have been putting out there. what was he referring to there? >> well, look. i think you've heard wild accusations about what health care reform means, that you'll lose your doctor, that you won't have choice or competition, that you won't have real reform, that this will jack the deficit up or it won't control costs. i think you heard the president address each and every one of those. we're going to cover every american. we're going to cut costs for every american. we're going to ensure that people have choice and competition in the health insurance that they have. i think you have heard some republicans in the past couple days say, this is really about politics. they want to see the president defeated not because of a policy proposal but instead just out of pure politics. i don't think that's what americans want or deserve out of any of their representatives especially in a problem as
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vexing as health care. i think the president tonight eloquently talked about the average family is going to watch their premiums for health care double over the next decade if we do nothing. we can't afford, rachel, to do nothing on a problem as important as health care. >> i think that your administration probably reads the mood of the public correctly when assessing that. americans generally aren't happy with the idea of politics being the end, of scoring political points and politics being the ultimate goal but politics is the path you need to travel in order to get to the end of fixing health care. what is the realistic deadline for getting this done? and what is plan b if congress doesn't meet that deadline as laid out by the president? >> well, look. this is a process that's going to take place in a few stages. obviously we're hopeful that the house and senate individually will complete work before they go home for the august recess in the individual house and senate.
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we're going to have to come back in the fall and make sure those proposals have everything in common before it goes ultimately we hope to the president's desk. so this is something that we're eventually trying to get done this fall. that's why i think this straw man argument you've heard that we're rushing a solution through just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. this is the first stage of the legislative process. let's be honest, rachel. these are debates we've been having for not just this year or the last couple years but for the last 40 years as we've watched health insurance skyrocket, as we've watched millions and millions of people lose their health insurance every day. i think the president was most eloquent tonight when he talked about what happens if we do nothing, right? our health care goes up. more people lose the health care they have. more people are put in jeopardy if they lose their job or change their job. insurance companies will be allowed to continue to discriminate on the basis of a preexisting condition. all of those things are
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something the president wants to change and hopes congress will change with him. >> let me ask you about the president's response to one very specific question about transparency and secrecy. christy parson from "the l.a. times" asked about a decision by the administration to not release the names of health industry executives who have gone to the white house to consult on health care reform. in "the l.a. times" today it was reported the administration explanation or argument was quite literally the same argument dick cheney had made in 2001 about not releasing the names of executives who had visited the energy task force he was running at the time. the president said something tonight about a letter having been sent about this with those executives' names. can you explain that? >> yes. we released the names of the executives that have been at the white house to talk to the president about health care. i'll be happy to e-mail that pdf of that letter to you. what is referred to in "the l.a. times" is there is continuing
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ongoing litigation involving white house records and the energy task force that the vice president chaired in 2001 that you just mentioned. that's litigation that continues in the courts today. but our white house released the names of executives that the president has met with on health care reform to this point this afternoon. just to be clear, is the white house supporting vice president cheney's arguments about that, that visitor records of who visits the white house are in fact presidential records and therefore not subject to public disclosure unless you want to disclose them? >> lord knows, rachel, for any number of reasons i don't want to be the spokesperson for the former vice president of the united states. but suffice it to say that, and i've been in meetings on this myself, we are reviewing the policy of the previous administrations that prohibits the release of what's called wades records and that's the process of somebody getting into the white house in hopes of
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making those transparent in the near future. >> robert gibbs, white house press secretary, really appreciate you taking time to be with us tonight. >> thanks. >> even as some democrats fight amongst themselves about health care the republicans appear very unified on health care. their unified, single message so far is, whoa. hey there. what's the rush? slow down. no need to actually do anything any time soon. with a big dose of urgency, elizabeth edwards will be joining us but we can't predict our shipping costs. dallas. detroit. different rates. well with us, it's the same flat rate. same flat rate. boston. boise? same flat rate. alabama. alaska? with priority mail flat rate boxes from the postal service. if it fits, it ships anywhere in the country for a low flat rate. dude's good. dude's real good. dudes. priority mail flat rate boxes only from the postal service. a simpler way to ship. ♪ ♪ which one's me - for a cool convertible or an suv? ♪
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if the president's emotional demand tonight that we finally get a functional health care system in this country seemed a little dejavuy to you that's because we have been hearing claims like this for a very, very, very long time. >> all of our efforts to strengthen the economy will fail unless we also take this year, not next year, not five years from now, but this year bold steps to reform our health care system. >> that of course was a much younger bill clinton during his first address to a joint session of congress back in 1993. kids born on the day of that speech can drive now. >> it is time for the democratic party to take up the cause of health. there probably has not been a family in this country that has
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been touched by sickness, illness, and disease like my own family. i want every delegate at this convention to understand that as long as i'm a vote and as long as i have a voice in the united states senate it's going to be for that democratic platform that provides decent quality health care north and south, east and west, for all americans as a matter of right and not a privilege. >> that was senator ted kennedy, still a champion of health care reform, speaking with amazing ire about this issue way back in 1978. >> i've repeatedly asked congress to pass a health care program. the nation suffers from lack of medical care. that situation can be remedied any time the congress wants to act upon it. >> and that was president harry truman, way back in 1948, which means that the sense of urgency
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about the need to reform what passes for a health care system in this country and politicians articulating that urgency, that's at least 61 years old. this has been a long time coming. for some politicians today it hasn't been quite long enough. >> this is too important to be rushed. we need to take our time and do it right. >> it is urgent and it is indisputable but the problem i have with it is the rush that is under way here. >> this doesn't take effect for four years, matt. we don't need to pass it in two weeks. >> the president and some democrats insist we must rush this plan through. >> i wish he'd say three things. first of all, we're going to slow down. >> it is pretty clear that they're going to rush ahead. >> you know unless you're talking about evolution, there's no way to rush anything that takes 61 years. and if there's anything we've learned in 61 years of trying to get health care reform, it's that when a politician is asked about reform and their answer is, slow, what they really mean
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is, no. no. everything's fine the way it is. joining us now is elizabeth edwards, a long-time proponent of health care reform, the wife of former presidential candidate john edwards, and author of the book "resilience, reflections on the burdens and gifts of facing life's adversities." mrs. edwards, thanks for joining us. >> it's great to be with you, rachel. >> after generations of fighting for this do you personally think it's going to happen here? do you have faith here? >> i actually think it is going to happen. i think the american people, i know from my personal experience, only anecdotal but also from polling that the american people think it's time we get this done. i think there's going to be a growing impatience with those opponents of health insurance reform who have been trying to delay, you know, it's actually a republican party tactic right now. the republican national committee has written a memo. the republican pollster frank lutz has given his advice and that is to distort the plan, to
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demonize the plan, and do whatever you can to delay the plan. harry truman, you know, that speech was a year before i was born. we're talking about a very long time to get here. and the cost is not just that we've got 61 years. there are costs right this minute. the president talked today where he was trying to take the hyperbole out of it and get back to what we're really talking about which is health care. 14,000 americans every single day lose their health insurance. if you talk about the time between the first of august and labor day we're talking about 500 million americans will lose their health insurance coverage. 62% of bankruptcy is caused by medical costs. o 50% of home foreclosures. maybe it's not a rush for those men in suits, retired men and largely men who suggest we delay. they all have health insurance. it's not an issue for them. but i think people like senator demint is going to go back to
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south carolina and find out that when he's trying to create a waterloo for the president, a political tactic, that he's going to find out there are a lot of waterloos going on in south carolina with families who are facing real crises because we have not addressed this health insurance issue as quickly and effectively as we could. >> the politics of course is the art of the possible and health care is not only not an exception to that but maybe the greatest example of that in terms of the distance between how big a problem we know it is, how much politicalpended about year and how little actually gets done. in terms of how to get this done there is some debate as to whether or not this should be done in a combative way or in sort of a kumbaya way. do you try to bring americans together around the idea of us all needing this in order for the country to be stronger or do you do this by campaigning against people like jim demint and the republicans who controlled congress and didn't want to do anything about health
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care and think this ought to be killed? how do you approach it? >> i'm not -- i think the president applauded a number of republicans who have really tried to work with this. this is probably not kumbaya but this has been a bipartisan effort. the senate historian said that the health committee, which is known as the help committee, but the health committee in the united states senate has been going over this bill doing what's called markup and the senate historian says he doesn't remember any committee spending as long doing a markup as the senate health committee has done and as the president pointed out over 160 amendments have been accepted from republicans on the house side and the last two years we've had 79 congressional hearings on health care. this is, you know, we're -- both sides are able to call witnesses. both sides get a chance to be heard. this is not something where one side is trying to ram it through. we really have had a real bipartisan effort. right now as we get really close and it looks like it's going to happen they are pulling out the
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big guns which is why the republican pollster suggests distorting the facts. let me say to the american public, and this is really important, if you hear somebody saying we can't afford health care reform because if they use any of these words, socialization or government control of your health care decisions, or if they mention england, france, or canada, be assured they are not telling you the truth. they are trying to scare you away from a plan that can make a real difference not just in american families but in the american economy as a whole. >> you have called our current health care system immoral in the past. you've been very open with the american people about your own struggles with cancer, about the importance of health care reform not just for the country but in terms of the way that you live your life and in terms of what the american people have to face in their own individual families. when you look at what we might get here sort of the best scenario of what might come out of this if we do get health care reform this year is what's on the table? what's being considered enough to actually fix it to make our health care system no longer
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immoral, something we can be proud of or do we need to go further? >> no i think is this 100% of the solution? i think the president has said we're not -- we're unlikely to get 100% of americans enrolled in health care but we can get pretty close and what's more we can get on the right road. not only do these policies have real -- the programs that are e being bantied about in the house and congress not only do they have real reform that can help save the health care system from the disaster, we are about to drive ourselves right off a cliff in terms of health care and the costs of that system. not only can we do that but we are also at the same time doing pilot programs to find out how we can continue to improve. in fact, that's one thing i find the most inspiring about where we've been going, the president's plan to have a separate advisory council that will be making binding
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suggestions that could become binding on how it is we continue to improve not just the first year but every year. the idea that we have a static system that doesn't change as we make improvements and as the situation changes would be a system that might answer our problems today but not in ten years. i'm hopeful that these solutions will in fact not just help our health care system now but will save medicare in the long term because the screenings and the diagnostic tests and the wellness programs that the president discussed have the capacity to make us an fitter nation, a weller nation. find cancers before i found mine for example and make the treatments less expensive so people don't go into medicare which as we know is teetering on bankruptcy always. we have the capacity that people don't go in as sick as they have been which is of course going to tax any kind of health care system. so we have the capacity to do something right today that puts us on the road to be even better
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tomorrow, ten years from now, 20 years from now. >> elizabeth, your recent book "resilience" is in part about what's been a hell of a few years for you with your own fight with cancer, with your husband's infidelity becoming public and you've written about both eloquently in the new book. i don't usually ask guests this but i feel it's okay to ask you this for some reason. tell me if it's not. but how are you doing? >> actually, i'm doing well. this is actually one of the reasons that inspires me to continue to speak out on health care because i'm doing well with a condition that many women, and women i have met that i have spoken to, are also fighting and they don't have the resources that i have. so when i, you know, was writing this book i thought not just about what i was going through but what they were going through every day and how much worse it was for them, you know. i certainly have a lot to lament as we all do. everybody mass their grihas the. but the grieves we can fix
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shouldn't we go about fixing them? >> a real pleasure to have you on the show. thank you. >> always great to be with you, rachel. >> okay. a retired army officer turned tv analyst and columnist goes on the air and encourages the taliban to kill an american soldier who was currently being held hostage by the taliban. then there is obviously outrage. then the guy goes back on tv to clarify his remarks and he says just about the same thing over again. now the outrage has an exclamation point on it. we have some actual clarification on this incredible story coming up.
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leigh still ahead a missing american soldier receives essentially a death sentence from an american military analyst on american tv. we're joined shortly to report actual facts about the disturbing story. plus the author of the infamous bush administration torture memos versus practical jokers all coming up. first it's time for a couple holy mackerel stories. republican senator john thune of south dakota had the ambitious idea this year that people who were issued concealed weapons in any state should be able to take their concealed weapon into any other state regardless of any other state's laws because who needs states? arguing for the idea against
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among many others city mayors and chuck schumer senator thune argued this. quote, i say to my colleague from new york, that if someone who has a concealed carry permit in the south dakota that goes to new york and is in central park, central park is a much safer place. if there's one thing that makes new yorkers feel safe in the park it's the idea that a visiting tourist from south dakota is also there armed. senator thune's amendment needed 60 votes to pass. it did not get 60 votes. in celebration there will presumably be absolutely no shootings by anyone in central park again tonight. tourist or otherwise. and turkmanistan shares a final syllable with so many of its neighbors. but frankly, it makes it easy from this distance to sometimes confuse turkmenistan with some of the other very lovely stans. to do so i'm telling you honestly would be a mistake
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because turkmenistan has national politics unto itself. set a google alert for turkmenistan. you will not be sorry. here's why. the leaders have a real flair for the grandiose. the first president to serve the newly independent nation wcame o power in 1991. he erected a golden statue of himself in the capital that rotates 360 degrees every 24 hours so as to always follow the sun. he renamed the days of the week and the mongths of the year aftr himself and his family members. and when he had to give up smoking so did every single government minister in the entire country. now, not to be outdone, his successor not only has a more difficult to pronounce name, he also refuses to be outshone by
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his predecessor in the art of stage craft, state media reporting today at the opening of a new cancer hospital the president eschewed the whole cutting a ribbon at the new facility thing. that would be what they do in normal countries. instead he decided to personally cut the first patient. he is a trained dentist. he literally, personally, performed the hospital's first surgery. he removed a benign tumor from behind some poor patient's ear. now, that is government-run health care. she'll be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. and he won't get the chemotherapy he needs. if we don't act, health care costs will rise 70%. and he'll have to cut benefits for his employees. but we can act. the president and congress have a plan to lower your costs and stop denials for pre-existing conditions. it's time to act.
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retirmd army lieutenant colonel ralph peters who is sometimes a newspaper columnist and sometimes a military/security analyst on tv shocked the country on a cable news show over the weekend when he openly wished for the execution of a captured american soldier. that soldier is 23-year-old private first class bowe bergdahl of hailey, idaho. private bergdahl is based out of fort richardson, alaska and has been serving in afghanistan for about five months. he's been missing since june 30th and on july 3rd officials
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declared him missing/captured. bergdahl's family got their first glimpse of the soldier this weekend when the taliban posted propaganda footage of him talking about his imprisonment by the taliban. tonight a vigil is being held in bergdahl's hometown and it is this heart breaking, infuriating story that has the war in afghanistan back in the news in this country and it is this story that put ralph peterson cable tv to talk about it. >> nobody in the military that i've heard is defending this guy. he is an apparent deserter. reports are indeed that he abandoned his buddies and post and walked off. we know this private is a liar. we're not sure if he's a deserter but the media needs to hit the pause button and not portray this guy as a hero. if he walked away from his post and his buddies in war time, i don't care how hard it sounds. as far as i'm concerned the taliban can save us a lot of legal hassles and legal bills. >> lieutenant colonel ralph
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peters is not a well known figure. it is not that his views carry any particular authority or weight except that they were broadcast nationally and they were so shocking that they sparked an immediate response. the head of iraq and afghanistan veterans of america offered his reaction here on this show on monday. >> with regard to colonel peters, he needs to shut his mouth. he doesn't know what happened on the ground. nobody knows what happened on the ground. and that private is an american and he deserves the benefit of the doubt. he deserves our support. his family deserves our support and guys like peters need to shut up. >> on the conservative military website black 5 other veterans expressed similar sentiments in even blunter terms. and 22 congressional veterans from both sides of the aisle sent a letter to the head of the fox news channel which is where ralph peters appeared. they are demanding an apology to private bergdahl's family. the letter says, quote, mr. peters has conveniently forgotten that soldiers in captivity are often forced to make statements contrary to their beliefs simply to stay
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alive. senator john mccain has often discussed his decision to do so while a captive of the viet cong. perhaps he would question his patriotism as well. ralph peters implied the taliban should simply kill private bergdahl to save us a lot of legal hassle and legal bills was repulsive and deserves to be repudiated by your news organization. given the outrage over mr. peters' remarks it is not surprising that he's been given an opportunity to clarify his remarks on the same cable tv network last night. here remarkably was his supposed clarification. >> i asked a very senior military leader for a yes or no answer. is pfc bergdahl a deserter? the answer was, yes. now, according to the article 85 uniform code of military justice, as a minimum he is awol in a war zone. i was angry because i felt the media were glorifying a guy who
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abandoned his buddies in combat. i can guarantee you his buddies aren't happy because he ashamed his unit. on that videotape he lied and he lied. >> i can guarantee you that he ashamed his unit. guarantee us? really? nbc pentagon correspondent has reported that in reality in the real world quote senior pentagon and military officials say there is no evidence that bergdahl is a deserter. meanwhile, completely under the radar, while no one paid attention today, the prime minister of one of the two countries where america is still at war, the prime minister of iraq, visited the white house today, his first visit with president obama since u.s. forces pulled out of iraqi cities last month. even as the attention of americans who aren't part of military families are drawn elsewhere we've got about 130,000 service members in iraq and 57,000 in afghanistan, many in incredibly difficult combat conditions, one in captivity in enemy hands. while he slandered and and
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threatened the american media back home. joining us now is jim miklaszewski. he is chief correspondent for nbc news. mr. miklaszewski, thank you very much for joining us tonight. >> you bet, rachel. >> what are correspondent sources telling you aboutist private first class? >> as you mentioned a moment ago, senior officials not only in washington but on the ground in afghanistan say there's no question he's not a deserter. he did leave his post by himself. he came off a patrol on june 30th, dropped off his weapon, his body armor, grabbed up a bottle of water, campus and a knife, and took off out on ohis own and it was some time after that apparently that some local militants grabbed him and turned him over to the taliban. now, should he have left the post alone? of course, not. but it doesn't make him a
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deserter. and officials are quite outraged about peters' comments, not just the idea he suggested the fact the taliban should executive bergdahl but it's totally irresponsible. here you have a kid 23 years old in custody, he's got to be terrified and now these peters' comments can actually be used by his captors to get even deeper inside bergdahl's mind and further erode any further confidence he may have that he will ever come out alive. in that regard, that's what they're more angry about and it's why you don't hear military officials or even government officials talking much about this case. they tread very carefully. they don't want to say anything that could give bergdahl's captors any ammunition. and what peters said was more than a mouthful. >> in terms of how the pentagon approaches its strategy here,
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not only in trying not to advance the taliban's propaganda aims, trying not to give them anything else they can use against this young soldier, who thr holding in such vulnerable positions but also giving himself a good chance to get him back, what are they willing to say about their strategy to get bergdahl back? how much are we able to know about how much they are trying to save him? >> you won't be surprised to know they're not going to tell you very much about how croes they may or may not be to bergdahl. i can only tell you military officials again on the ground in afghanistan feel very confident that they're getting closer to bergdahl. that he's somewhere inside those eastern reaches of afghanistan, right along the pakistan border. but they are unwilling to change the details. only that this feel they are getting closer and they do have some glimmer of hope that they will be able to rescue bergdahl
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alive. there is one thing working in bergdahl's favor, and that the taliban both in pakistan and afghanistan, do not have a history of killing hostages that they take, that they hold onto tell for some time actually to extract whatever it is they're after, whether it's a ransom or exchange of prisoners or even propaganda. and in this case, obviously, they can use bergdahl for their propaganda purposes. what is disturbing to some military officials is these captors have made no demands whatsoever for bergdahl's release. >> chief pentagon correspondent for nbc news, jim miklaszewski. thanks very much for staying up late, well into your workday, to join us, jim. thank you very much. >> okay, rachel. coming up, john torture member yu gets punked and it's on tape. kent jones will have that story in a moment. stay with us. revving ]
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for unsurpassed only from progr. call or click today. we turn now to our situationist satire correspondent kent jones. >> hi, rachel.
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you may have heard of an australian comedy called "the chasers war on everything," well, the show recently turned its cameras on the bush administration torture guy john yoo while he was teaching a class at cal berkeley. here with more are the hosts chris taylor. >> when it comes to another person who must be sweating in his boots is this man, john yoo, the chief architect under george w. bush. this is a guy who enhanced torture. >> now he's at berkeley university so at keen students of his work, we thought we would attend one of his lectures.
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>> this is a private classroom. excuse me. out. >> he said at the end i'm going to the human rights class. >> you won't be teaching there, yeah. >> wow. i love that their security is very bad in that print dress. >> absolutely. >> impressive. thank you, kent. appreciate that. thank you for watching here tonight. we will see you tomorrow night. a live edition of "hardball" with chris matthews starts right now. thanks for spending your evening
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with us. see you tomorrow. good night. night court. let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm chris matthews in washington with a special late-night edition of "hardball." leading off tonight, so what's the verdict? president obama tonight tried to tackle a problem that has frustrated presidents and congress for decades, health care reform. but when you go on national television in primetime, you better have some answers. you better say something. the question is, did the president do that tonight? did president obama tell us why we need to change our health care system? did he tell us what the change would be? did he tell us how we're supposed to pay for it? it's not clear to me he did any of those things. also, the most important moment of the evening may have come at the at the very end when the president took sides in the arrest of an african-american
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scholar, henry lewis gates. and we will take another look at the lunatic fringe of the republican party that doesn't believe that barack obama is actually a u.s. citizen. that he's actually american. but we begin tonight with health care, of course. nbc white house correspondent savannah guthrie joins us now from the white house. nbc's kelly o'donnell is at the u.s. capitol. in new york, dr. nancy snyderman is with us. she's the most of msnbc "dr. nancy." i want to to to savannah guthrie, is there a sense from you all watching this at the white house that the president laid out a compelling chase why we need to change the health care system. >> it's clear that's what the president felt his mission was is, to explain to ordinary americans why health care reform is a good thing. i think they rise here is part of the messaging is a little bit off. it could be a little sharper on that other. expectly when you have new


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